Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $901,024)
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Forensic Science Service (BCA FSS) is part of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, providing forensic services to over 500 local law enforcement agencies within the state as well as State and Federal agencies. The BCA FSS is also the laboratory responsible for receiving and analyzing all convicted offender samples and maintaining the DNA database. Our overall strategy for the 2021 BCA FSS DNA Capacity Enhancement for Backlog Reduction program will use a multi-faceted approach to increase capacity with an eye on reducing our overall backlog, even as DNA case submissions continue to increase. The plan includes an introduction and implementation of new liquid handling robots that will automate a recently validated method to extract DNA from samples collected as part of sex assault investigations as well as moving to include our satellite laboratory in Bemidji for full DNA casework. The 2021 program will continue to use grant-funding purchase a number of supplies needed to perform analysis on a portion of backlogged DNA cases. The program will also increase the number of hours that trained DNA scientists are available to work on backlogged cases by providing funding for overtime and to fund a full time position whose job duties include casework duties, such as screening evidence and quantitation of batches of DNA samples. The incumbents will also be responsible for reagent preparation and quality control checks on reagents and instrumentation, freeing time for scientific staff to perform casework. Finally, our program will seek to increase our capacity by providing funding for educational opportunities for scientific staff, exposing them to new, innovative technologies that will improve lab efficiencies in the future.